The History of Hispanic Heritage Month

Every year the United States honors the contributions that Latinos have made to our nation by celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month on September 15 to October 15. This month is intended to recognize the cultures and history of U.S. citizens whose ancestors originated from Mexico, Central America, South America, the Caribbean, and Spain. While this annual celebration began 21 years ago,some of us are unaware of the history behind this important month.

Back in 1968, congress first passed a resolution to observe Hispanic heritage as a week long event under President Lyndon Johnson. Then, in 1988 President Ronald Reagan decided to increase the celebration to 30 days, starting on September 15 and stretching until October 15. The observation then became a public law on August 17, 1988. 

September 15 was chosen as the first day of the celebration because it is the anniversary of independence for Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and El Salvador. In addition, Mexico celebrates their independence on September 16 and Chile on September 18. Columbus Day also falls within this 30 period on October 12.

Hispanic Heritage Month honors the impact and influence that Hispanic culture has had on American society in areas such as art, science, politics, and the economy. Throughout United States history, people have come from all parts of the globe and contributed to help build and grow our free nation. President Obama recently welcomed Hispanic Heritage Month saying that Hispanics have shaped and strengthened the fabric of our country, and served courageously as members of our armed forces. “This month, we celebrate this rich heritage and reflect on the invaluable contributions Hispanics have made to America,” The President said. “As we celebrate these hard-fought achievements, we must also remember there is more work to be done to widen the circle of opportunity for the Hispanic community and keep the American dream within reach for all who seek it.”

Observing Hispanic Heritage Month is a great opportunity to celebrate and take pride in our ethnic roots and educate those around you about Latin American cultures. 

What are you doing to celebrate?